In Luke Shawley's new life, he can be found on a Saturday afternoon lounging in a pool under a gorgeously blue Manoa sky. It actually is an inflatable pool filled with iced water and University of Hawaii teammates aching from another grueling football practice.
The "pool area" is next to the athletic complex, where the Rainbow Warriors sleep on cots in two dance studios during this training camp. When school is in session, Shawley survives on a stipend check included in his football scholarship. Because of a snafu, that check was delayed at the end of the spring semester, forcing him and several teammates to sleep in the locker room while feasting on energy bars. For all the warts and blemishes, Shawley said he is in paradise.
"It's beautiful here," said Shawley, a defensive end. "It's Hawaii. It's a nice place to be." Shawley has earned praise from coaches and professors, as well as respect and friendship from teammates.
Shawley had it all — money, a career as a Navy SEAL, wide-spread adoration — then saw it vaporize in a nightmare he cannot remember. According to Las Vegas published reports, after an evening of dinner and drinks with other SEALs in March 2010, Shawley went on a rampage, hitting people with an aluminum pipe. Shawley was found guilty of seven counts of battery in 2012. He was sentenced to 56 days in jail and probation. In issuing the lighter sentence, the judge cited Shawley's exemplary SEAL record and the likelihood the attack was preceded when he inadvertently drank from another person's glass that might have contained MDMA. Shawley declined to discuss specifics of his case and trial. But he conceded: "I definitely lost a lot. I lost a lot of money, a lot of respect. I put my family through a hell of a lot with that whole thing. … I think it's going to be a long process to try to change everyone's opinion of (me)." After being discharged, Shawley recalled, "I didn't know what to do with my life." His girlfriend, a former San Diego Chargers cheerleader, suggested playing football. "She actually signed me up for the San Diego Mesa Junior College team," Shawley said.
Shawley who had not played organized football previously, joined Mesa as a walk-on with the intent of playing linebacker. Instead, he was assigned to strongside defensive end. He had 17.5 tackles for loss as a freshman in 2012 and 10 sacks as a sophomore. Mesa offensive coordinator Dave Lay then recommended Shawley to UH coach Norm Chow. Chow and his assistant coaches pored through videos, then did extensive background and character checks on Shawley. "(Hawaii) was my first visit, first offer, and I took it," said Shawley, who signed with UH in December and enrolled in January. Shawley earned a spot in the defensive rotation in spring practice. He also had a team-high 3.84 grade-point average for the spring semester. "I worked hard in the classroom," he said. Defensive coordinator Kevin Clune noted his field work was equally impressive. "The guy is probably one of the hardest workers we have," Clune said. "There's no substitute for that." At 240 pounds, Shawley is undersized for an end. "I work hard, keep my head down, and try to make it work. This opportunity is really important to me. I'll do everything I can to take advantage of it.